Monday, January 4, 2010

Editorial Comment: Why You Should Vote Not to Incorporate

Andrew Moralez's statement of concern about the boundary lines (see below) of the proposed incorporation of Anthony tipped the balance for me against it this go-around. Promoters have been less than fully honest about the costs. They failed to explain what services they intend to provide, and failed to engage the affected population in any real way. Many who are in favor of incorporation have expressed concern about the shoddy way this has been promoted.

Lack of Transparency: As Betty Gonzalez put it, she had hoped a broad spectrum of the public would be consulted, but in the end only a tiny minority were involved. Some tried to salvage the proposal by encouraging Andrew Moralez to run for mayor, but he doesn't live in the proposed area, so that leaves the promoters in charge.

Services? The only clue as to what the promoters have in mind is a proposed budget by Frank Coppler, attorney for the Anthony water district, presented to the county commission. For $200,000 he proposes to have an extra police and a clerk-treasurer and city court. Since the latter are already provided by the county, the net benefit to citizens would be one extra police officer, after raising property taxes by 13%. Is that it?

Taxes: Hatch, Mesilla, and Sunland Park all raised property taxes when they became municipalities, and if Anthony were to do the same to reach a budget of $200,000, they would go up 13%, according to the county assessor, Gary Perez. Coppler accused Perez of using "scare tactics" in providing this information and he implied taxes might not have to go up at all. Why was Coppler so afraid to admit taxes will go up? The $200,000 budget he proposes represents an increase in property taxes of just $7.00 per month for the average residence, valued at $65,000. Doesn't he trust to the people of Anthony enough to let them understand what they are getting into?

Boundary Lines: The lines drawn for the municipality are selective. They did not include Green Acres, a likely target for incorporation since it is very much a part of the community and could provide a more solid tax base for a municipality. Were they afraid Green Acres didn't trust them with their taxes, and hope to annex them after the municipality becomes a reality? Some people think so, but it never became part of the discussion. Meanwhile this leaves the poorest people of Anthony stuck with the tax burden.

People have a right to know what they are getting into, and at this point there have been a lot of promises but little concrete information. Better reject it this go-around and start from scratch with stronger community input.


Anonymous said...

Boy did you get it wrong. Now we can have Andrew Morales as our mayor.

Jose Z. Garcia said...

No, I am not wrong. As I indicated in an earlier blog, Mr. Moralez informed me he lived outside the boundary lines of the district and would therefore be ineligible to run for mayor.